Resources and Guidance for Businesses in response to COVID-19 as of April 7, 2021
OPEN Grant and Loan Programs:
The federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 includes new funding programs to assist businesses and communities with economic recovery. One of the new business programs to be launched is the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, as administered by the US Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA is developing the program now and will announce details when they become available. Another new SBA program is the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, see below for details. Prospective applicants should note that most federal grant programs require applicants to have a Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) number and to register with the federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM). It may take time to get these tasks completed, so it is advantageous for prospective applicants to get a DUNS number and register with SAM in advance. For more information about how to get a DUNS number and register with SAM, go to: https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-guide/basic-requirements.
The Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) Get Ready Grants awards up to $500 to individual artists working in craft disciplines to conduct activities that will help safeguard their studios, protect their careers, and prepare for emergencies. The fund will accept applications through April 21, 2021. Priority will be given to Black, Indigenous, People of Color and folk and traditional artists. For more information, go to: https://cerfplus.org/get-ready/get-ready-grants/
A new grant opportunity has opened for businesses, nonprofits, artists and farmers in Shelburne Falls and the West County area (i.e. Ashfield, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Hawley, Heath, Monroe, Rowe, and Shelburne). Applicants may request grants for $2,500 to up to $15,000. Eligible entities and individuals can use grant funds to cover expenses such as employee payroll, rent, inventory, equipment, and working capital. For more information, go to https://www.fccdc.org/shelburne-falls-and-west-county-grants/.
The US Small Business Administration (SBA) website offers a review of relief programs and resources for businesses impacted by COVID-19. Two such programs are the following. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loans to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the pandemic crisis. Some borrowers may be eligible for PPP loan forgiveness. The SBA is currently offering PPP loans through May 31, 2021. The US Small Business Administration for eligible small businesses and nonprofit organizations to apply for The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program offers loans are at a 3.75% interest rate for eligible small businesses and 2.75% interest rate for eligible nonprofit organizations, a 30-year maturity, and an automatic deferment of one year before monthly payments begin. The deadline to apply is December 31, 2021. For more information about SBA programs and resources go to: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options
The US Small Business Administration will soon launch its Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program for eligible small businesses and nonprofits. Eligible applicants will include live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, move theater operators, relevant museum operators, and more. The application period will open on April 8, 2021. Information about the program has been released that provides details on who is eligible to apply, how the grant funds can be used, and more. For more information, go to: https://www.svograntportal.sba.gov/s/.
The COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts, like the rest of the country, was declared a major disaster by the federal government in March 2020. As a result, special tax law provisions may apply. According to the IRS, “Depending on the circumstances, the IRS may grant additional time to file returns and pay taxes. Both individuals and businesses in a federally declared disaster area can get a faster refund by claiming losses related to the disaster on the tax return for the previous year, usually by filing an amended return.” For details: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/disaster-assistance-and-emergency-relief-for-individuals-and-businesses. For the latest guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue about tax relief measures for businesses due to COVID-19, go to: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-from-dor
MassDevelopment’s Commonwealth Places has a new funding round to support economic recovery from COVID-19 through community placemaking. The purpose is to support projects that create destinations for residents and visitors to shop or dine. Eligible applicants such as non-profits and other community groups can apply for seed grants (between $250 to $7,500) or implementation grants (up to $10,000 unmatched, or up to $50,000 matched by crowdfunding donations). Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis until June 30,2021. For more details, go to: https://www.massdevelopment.com/what-we-offer/real-estate-services/commonwealth-places
The City of Greenfield received a CDBG award to fund the Regional Micro-enterprise Assistance Program for businesses based in 23 Franklin County municipalities – Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Hawley, Heath, Leverett, Leyden, Montague, New Salem, Northfield, Orange, Shelburne, Shutesbury, Sunderland, Warwick, Wendell and Whately. Eligible businesses with five or fewer employees who are income eligible and who can demonstrate a COVID loss, can apply for a forgivable loan of up to $10,000. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis until the funds are depleted. The program is administered by the Franklin County Community Development Corporation (CDC). Go to: https://www.fccdc.org/covid-recovery-micro-enterprise-assistance-program/
The COVID Recovery Micro-enterprise Assistance Program is a forgivable loan program for businesses with five or fewer employees located in Buckland, Greenfield, Montague, or Shelburne. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis until the funds are depleted. The program is administered by the Franklin County CDC. Go to: https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/FranklinCountyCommunityDevelo/MICROApplication-24.html
The Town of Erving has a COVID Micro-enterprise Relief Program that has one remaining $5,000 forgivable loan remaining (as of 1/4/2021) for an eligible business with five or fewer employees located in Erving. Go to: https://www.erving-ma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif4401/f/uploads/erving_covid_summary_92120.pdf
Franklin County Community Development Corporation offers loan financing, direct business technical assistance services, and expertise for food businesses. Go to: https://www.fccdc.org/covid-19-resources/
U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan for eligible small business, non-profits and agricultural businesses. Go to: https://www.sba.gov/page/disaster-loan-applications
Guidance and Reference materials for adapting to COVID-19 pandemic:
Schedule of free Western Mass. small business webinars and recorded past webinars. Go to: https://bit.ly/WebinarsList2020
List of Western Mass. business resources (including grants and loans) for businesses in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire Counties. Go to: https://bit.ly/WMassBusinessResources.
Join the MA Office of Travel & Tourism’s new My Local MA campaign! The campaign provides ready-to-use resources for businesses to encourage customers and visitors to shop locally. For more information, go to https://www.lovemylocalma.com/downloads/.
University of Western New England’s Small Business Legal Clinic is accepting applications from entrepreneurs and small business owners seeking free legal assistance for the spring 2021 semester.
Patronicity’s Winter Places: A Design Guide for Winter Placemaking is a free design guide for communities and businesses to create outdoor spaces for commerce and public enjoyment, while being respective of social distancing and other mitigation measures.
BizWorks’ Resource Guide for Businesses offers a quick review of the Commonwealth’s various workforce and business development programs available, including support to avert layoffs, workforce training, workshare (which allows the company to reduce an employee’s hours while allowing the employee to collect some unemployment benefits). Go to: https://www.mass.gov/doc/masshire-bizworks-resource-guide/download
MassHire Franklin-Hampshire Career Center information for both job seekers/employees and for businesses/employers. Go to: https://www.masshirefhcareers.org/
Small businesses can access free online classes in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Quickbooks and WordPress for their employees through a program of Greenfield Community Colleges. Go to WorkforceTrainingFund.org to see if your business is eligible and then email email@example.com for more information.
CISA’s COVID-19 resources for farmers. Go to https://www.buylocalfood.org/resources-for-farmers/tipsheets/covid-19-resources/
Created by Safe Supply, an outdoor grocery store in Somerville, the Safe Supply Field Guide is a step-by-step guide for supporting local food producers and providing a shopping alternative during the COVID-19 pandemic. Go to: https://www.safesupplyfieldguide.org/
Guidance and resources from the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. Go to: https://www.themassrest.org/coronavirus-resources.html
MA Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission’s recent advisories on local approval of outdoor seating, guidelines for patio and outdoor areas, and more. Go to: https://www.mass.gov/lists/abcc-advisories#2020-advisories-
Franklin County Chamber of Commerce hosts a Facebook interview series at https://www.facebook.com/FranklinCountyChamberofCommerce/ and posts business information updates at https://franklincc.org/whats-new-at-the-chamber/273-covid-19-messag.
Small Business Strong is a partnership of banks, foundations and others set up to help women and minority-owned businesses in Massachusetts. The website includes a list of resources, ranging from guidance on a variety of business issues to loans and grants available to businesses. Go to: https://www.smallbstrong.com/support-services/
Community design inspiration is found in Design for Distancing guide created by the City of Baltimore. Go to: https://www.designfordistancing.org/.
U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA office offers guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19. Go to: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/
The international Business Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) offers on how to prepare buildings and tenants for addressing pandemic conditions. Go to: https://www.boma.org/coronavirus
Resources for Freelance Artists aggregates information about various resources available to artists and art organizations. Go to: https://www.freelanceartistresource.com/category/money/
As more funding becomes available, the Tipped & Service Workers Fund will release small emergency grants. Go to: https://ofwemergencyfund.org/
Community Action Pioneer Valley’s Look 4 Help page a wide variety information and resources for individuals and families – https://www.look4help.org/
CLOSED Grant and Loan Rounds:
The Massachusetts COVID-19 Innovation Challenge is a business accelerator program to identify and grow Massachusetts based companies developing innovative solutions to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ideal candidates are entrepreneurs developing connective technologies with the potential to spark economic recovery and strengthen resiliency in the flow of goods, services, and information. The six-week accelerator offered participants entrepreneurs a series of workshops and access to mentors. The final event will be juried by a panel of independent experts who will award $40,000 to the winning company and $10,000 to the runner-up in April. The deadline closed on February 19, 2021. The competition is supported by the MassTech Collaborative and managed by Lever, Inc. based in North Adams. For details: https://innovation.masstech.org/challenge-4-connect-tech-innovations
MassDOT has announced new rounds for the Shared Winter Streets and Spaces Program to help municipalities address the challenges of winter amid the ongoing public health crisis by improving public spaces in support of public health, safe mobility & renewed commerce. The last of four rounds closed on February 26, 2021. Contact FRCOG Transportation Planning staff for guidance on project ideas. For program details, go to: https://www.mass.gov/shared-winter-streets-and-spaces-grant-program.
Rural LISC’s Rural Relief Small Business Grant Program is offering grants from $5,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses in rural communities that are facing financial pressure because of COVID-19. The last funding round closed on Tuesday, February 2, 2021. Priority was given to businesses in underserved communities, including entrepreneurs of color, and women and veteran owned businesses. For details go to: https://www.lisc.org/covid-19/small-business-assistance/rural-relief-small-business-grants/
The MGCC is administering the state’s Sector-Specific Relief Grant Program for Massachusetts Businesses, which seeks to award grants to businesses in need of financial support due to COVID-19 pandemic related loss of income. Restaurants and bars, indoor recreation or entertainment establishments, gyms or fitness centers, personal services, event-support professionals, and brick-and-mortar retailers will be given preference. The application period closed on Monday, January 18, 2021. For details go to: https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/covid-19-response/sector-specific-relief-grant-program-massachusetts-businesses
The Commonwealth opened a new state technical assistance program to support local governments in revitalizing downtowns and commercial districts. Called Local Rapid Recovery Planning, applications were accepted through December 18, 2020. All municipalities were eligible to apply, and non-profit entities, such as Business Improvement Districts, Main Street organizations or Community Development Corporations, were eligible to lead the planning process with local government support. For more information, go to https://edit.mass.gov/forms/local-rapid-recovery-planning-application.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has launched two new programs to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will provide grants of up to $75,000 to eligible small businesses (businesses with 50 or fewer employees) and grants of up to $25,000 to eligible microenterprises (businesses with 5 or fewer employees) to fund certain activities. The application round opened on October 22, 2020 and closed on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 11:59 pm. For details, go to: https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/covid-19-response/covid-19-grants-massachusetts-small-businesses.
The Community Foundation of Western Mass accepted applications for its latest grant round for eligible non-profit organizations impacted by COVID-19 through September 1, 2020. Click here for more information.
Round 2 of Town of Orange’s AGO Small Business Relief Partnership Grant program for small businesses based in Orange had applications due on August 9, 2020. Eligible, Orange-based businesses can be awarded a grant up to $2,500.
U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) closed on August 8, 2020. Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation posted information about the federal PPP, at https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/resources/covid-19-small-business-resources
The latest round of CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund had an application deadline of June 6, 2020. However, they continue to have a robust list of COVD-19 resources and information for farmers at https://www.buylocalfood.org/resources-for-farmers/tipsheets/covid-19-resources/.
Pioneer Valley Businesses and Organization Survey as of April 3, 2020
Emergency Preparedness Resources for Businesses:
Whether it is a blizzard, flood, or a hazardous spill, business can’t always control what happens in the future. However, there are steps to be better prepared. And when you can respond and recover quickly, you can get back to business! Information on how businesses can be prepared for emergencies is available at WesternMassReady.org and Ready.gov/Business, or download the Getting Back To Business brochure (PDF, 875KB).
Business Development Resources:
Looking to start a new business venture? Or expand an existing business venture? Check out the 2018 Franklin County Business Development Resources Guide (PDF 2.2mb) to find helpful information and links to organizations that provide technical assistance, training, financing and more!